How much privacy do you have on your company owned smartphone?
There have been many cases that have clarified an employer’s ability to monitor e-mail on workplace computers, but monitoring employee text messages has now become common practice. Industries notorious for their extensive practice of employee monitoring include financial services, telecommunications, pharmaceuticals, insurance and government sector jobs. Surveys have shown that more than three quarters of bosses think employees should be allowed to send personal e-mail or texts from employer-provided equipment, as long as it isn’t excessive and doesn’t interfere with work.
That said, half of employers say they monitor employee email use, and about a quarter have fired workers for violating e-mail or text policies. However, unlike e-mails that are stored on the company server, cell phone companies store text message records–and many companies do not pay for access. The company has the legal right to put a monitoring software on your phone. The phone is company property, after all. Public entities should be cautious in reviewing employee communications based on the assumption that they are not private.
Employers should avoid giving employees any reasonable expectation of privacy as such course of conduct could undermine an employer’s computer usage policy. Some states don’t require a warning to employees that this extensive monitoring is in effect; you can find out by asking your human resources department. Employers, and in particular public employers should be ready by having clear and precise monitoring policies that are consistently followed and effectively enforced. Text messages, no doubt, should be included in such monitoring policies.